By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
CONCORD, N.C. – Different week. Different circumstances. Same driver.
Last Sunday at Dover International Speedway, Kyle Larson was chasing Matt Kenseth for the win in the AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Larson treated Kenseth, the 2003 series champion, with the utmost respect, taking great pains to run the veteran driver as cleanly as possibly. Kenseth won, with Larson trailing him in second place by a fraction of a second.
But that was not the case on Saturday morning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Larson was battling Chase Elliott for the lead in the final segment of the Sprint Showdown, with the last spot in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (9 p.m. ET on FS1) on the line.
When Elliott tried to pass Larson to the outside through the final corner, Larson ran Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet into the outside wall. And as the cars continued side-by-side to the finish line, Larson turned into the driver’s-side door of Elliott’s car to break his momentum. Larson got to the stripe first, by .016 seconds.
Different circumstances. Different result. No apologies.
After all, Larson was confident the fans would vote Elliott into the All-Star Race if he didn’t transfer, and Larson was right.
“He had the run,” Larson said. “I just had to squeeze him. So, I’m sure he’s upset with me. But it’s a non-points race, and we’re going for a million bucks. I felt like I had to get it done, especially knowing that he would be in the race and I wouldn’t.”
A frustrated Elliott finished second in two segments of the three segments of the Showdown by a combined .020 seconds (he was .004 seconds behind Trevor Bayne at the end of the first 20 laps).
“Kyle did what he had to do to beat us back to the line,” Elliott said. “We had a real good run. I hate to not to race your way in. That’s pretty frustrating on my behalf. I just didn’t do a very good job.
“Regardless, it was great to have some great fans to get us in this race, because I couldn’t get it done for us.”
Image: Image: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images